Boeing Could Be Preparing To End 747 Production

The iconic Boeing 747 ‘Queen of the Skies’ is facing an uncertain future today, as the factory supplying the manufacturer with the fuselages for the type is preparing to close its doors. Triumph Aerostructures, a subsidiary of the Triumph Group, plans to end operations at its South California plant by December 6th, leaving Boeing with a tough choice to make.

Boeing 747 production ending
Could the 747 production be coming to an end? Photo: Boeing

The beginning of the end?

The future for the iconic 747 jumbo is in doubt today as news has arisen that the factory producing its fuselage is being shut down. Bloomberg reports that the Southern California factory of Triumph Group is winding up operations, with an auction already held yesterday to clear out some of its gear.

Boeing 747 production ending
Triumph has built every 747 fuselage ever made. Photo: Boeing

The Triumph Group has produced every single fuselage for Boeing’s 747 aircraft since the launch of the type back in 1970. In fact, production at the Hawthorne site began as early as 1966, after Pan American World Airways placed the first order for the jumbo.

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According to a press release, Triumph Aerostructures is closing two of its facilities, this one in Hawthorne and also one in Torrance California. It is liquidating its assets from both sites via multiple online auctions, the first of which took place yesterday. The first auction included the sale of more than 200 lots, ranging from forklifts to CNC machining centers and MRO materials.

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Triumph plans to cease operations in both its factories by the 6th of December this year.

The winding down of the 747

The Boeing 747 was once seen as the pinnacle of flying. Its massive passenger capacity, huge range and iconic looks made it a favorite with passengers and airlines alike throughout the 80s and 90s. However, modern advancements in technology and a shift in network strategies has left the 747 lacking in orders from commercial airlines.

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Boeing 747 production ending
An order from UPS was seen as a lifeline for the type. Photo: Boeing

Previously, Boeing had looked to the cargo industry to keep sales of the 747 flowing. The boom in online shopping helped to bolster sales in recent years, with an order for 14 of the 747-8F model by UPS in 2018 seen as a lifeline for production. However, the US-China trade war has dulled the appetite for international freight, and no new sales of the type were recorded in 2019.

Right now, just 18 orders remain in the backlog. Due to the slow production of the 747, this actually equates to a further three years of production. Apparently Triumph is working ahead of schedule in an attempt to fulfil all outstanding orders before the closure of the plant next month. However, it is also shutting down a Dallas based factory in the near future, which supplies the tail sections, floor beams and a number of other parts.

Boeing 747 production ending
Boeing had hoped its strong performance in the cargo sector would keep the 747 alive. Photo: Boeing

Could Boeing keep the 747 production alive?

It would take a great deal of effort and investment to keep the 747 production alive once Triumph shuts its doors for good. Of course, Boeing has the option of taking production in house, but for such a large airframe with such a small demand, the costs could certainly outweigh the benefits.

Simple Flying has reached out to Boeing for input on this news, and will update this article when we hear back.

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Gnoelj

To squeeze the last out of the 747 bowing are planning to install the new Ge9x engine and raise the undercarriage by 3foot, it would of course need MCAS and be called the 747 max. And for sure It will be one of the safest aircraft ever to fly, because as we all know “bowing own it*

Christian

You should probably learn how to spell BOEING before you make snarky jokes 😉

Gnoelj

Haven’t you heard? To reinstall faith in the company and its aircraft they are re-branding. Welcome the bowing macks.

Angie

just…why?

Gerry Stumpe

Donkey-orifice!

Gnoelj

The point raised is bowing would rather not waste cash building and designing new aircraft, they would rather push old designs past their limits to save time and money.

Chuck

With the A380 fading from the picture and B747 wrapping up production, Airbus & Boeing need to concentrate on new products like next generation, carbon fiber A320 & B737 replacements; or MOM replacements for the B767 and A330. MAX and NEO products are only good for the next 5 to 7 years before the airlines insist on hyper efficient replacements. The sleeping giants need to turn off the auto pilot and take control.

Mark Thompson

If you are going to make snarky comments about Boeing’s products get their names correct.
They are the 737 and 767. Airbus puts a letter in front of the name of the planes, Boeing does not.

High Mile Club

It’s not uncommon to refer to a Boeing as B777 or such, with letter just referring to the manufacturer. Same goes for Embraer and Bombardier. Just because you don’t hear people doing it often doesn’t mean it’s not correct.

Richard

It would be a mistake on there behalf as the freight market as growing.

Transtraxman

” on their behalf”….

HeloMech

*their

CorMan

“they’re, their, there…”

TonytTDK

Airbus are already looking at the A320 series replacement, as entering service around 2030 or so. Because of the size & range of the A321, they’ve no need of a MOM design, but they might stretch another 10-15 seats into it & then the next size up is an A330neo. Boeing on the other hand has nothing between it’s dicey 737-Max & its smallest 787. They’ve been talking about a 737 replacement for over a decade & a MOM airframe for almost as long……. But that’s all it is….. Talk.! They appear to have neither the finance, nor the engineering… Read more »

High Mile Club

If the 747 is due to end production, then the era of the quad jets has finally come to an end. Twin jets will now rule the Skies for the foreseeable future.

James Carpenter

I agree with your assessment. With the future of fossil fuels obviously having an end in site, there is currently only one choice, economy. If I were in charge, I would place a lot of my attention toward what will make things fly without fossil fuels in the future. Whoever figures that out will be King.

Peter

This has been coming for a long time.
The age of 4-engine planes is dead, and the age of VLAs is dead.
Cargo operators can manage fine with 777s. Hopefully Airbus will also introduce a cargo version of the A350.

MK Mnguni

Quite likely that they working on it. It makes sense.

High Mile Club

I doubt it. They’ve only ever built a freighter of the A310 and A330, but haven’t shown interest in doing the same for other modeks; surprisingly they haven’t a cargo version of the A340. Boeing on the other hand, has a freighter for every passenger aircraft they’ve made so far with the exception of the 787; and have no intention of doing so right now with the 767 freighter still going. Plus, there’s the intent for a 777x freighter.

TonytTDK

I reckon that the biggest trick of all which Airbus have missed is the inability of the A380 to be turned into a 2-deck freighter.
It is a very fuel-efficient aircraft when it’s full……. It’s appallingly thirsty, when it’s not.
Air Freight & overnight companies which utilise B747F’s & MD11F’s at a profit, would undoubtedly profitably use an A380F…… if it existed.!

Transworld

Its the reality. Triumph has legal obligations to Boeing which will include ALL parts. They will provide those parts. If not further 747-8F orders then it will wind down as do all programs sooner or latter. Sad day as it was so iconic. It has nothing to do with Triumph and all to do with the market and long lead items. But as noted, 2 engine is the way though its more a market size aspect now. A350-1000 and the 777X area is limited. 787 to A350-900 is where they are flexibility enough for an airline to own and where… Read more »

TonytTDK

One would imagine that the contract with Boeing will very shortly expire. Beyond that time, Triumph may possibly have some kind of product support obligation, BUT, it may also be that Boeing take that upon themselves anyway. As I understand it, Triumph make the fuselage body, but other companies make other sections & compnents, which are delivered to Boeing for final asssembly. Since the fuselage is not the kind of ‘component’ you would expect ‘support’ over, because if it fails, you tend to scrap the airframe, there may not actually be any substantial obligation beyond the actual ‘manufacture to specification’… Read more »

paul

why do they just tx to sprint wo does the 37 even vartar airlines wants 47-8i

Russ

I seriously doubt this is catching Boeing by surprise. Boeing would in turn have placed their orders with Triumph long ago, laying out the delivery schedule for the UPS (and other) 747-8F fuselage sections. Contracts would have been signed, etc. So I would be very surprised to learn that Boeing doesn’t have a contingency plan already in place.

Parker West

The 747 was a case of getting it right, Juan Tripp was behind the design, Boeing added the hump for a cargo version and here we are 1,554 units delivered, including 154 747-8I and 747-8F versions. Clearly the market is screaming for widebody, two engine aircraft for long routes not four engine, less economical jumbos. I’m sure 747 freighters will be around a long time, it’s still exciting to see the unique profile taking off a reminder of all the trips I’ve taken on the bird with not even a hiccup. She’s been late, but none of my flights were… Read more »

Parker West

Please excuse the “There L-1011” it should have read “The L-1011”. Yes, there is a edit option but you can’t scroll with it.

Peter

You CAN scroll with the edit option if you click somewhere (anywhere) on the text that you want to edit: it then opens full-text in a separate window.

Another sad moment in the aviation industry, I’m crying now😭